VeggieBoards banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
414 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
----- Original Message -----

From: UPC News

Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 12:31 PM

Subject: Virgil Butler Dies

United Poultry Concerns

December 15, 2006

Virgil Butler, Ex-Tyson Slaughterhouse Voice for Chickens, has Died

It is with profound sorrow that United Poultry Concerns announces the untimely death of Virgil Butler. Virgil died during the night in his car in front of his home where he lived with his partner, Laura Alexander.

Virgil was a Tyson chicken slaughterhouse worker turned activist. In testimony given through PETA in January 2003, Virgil Butler documented the horrific treatment of chickens that he witnessed every night while working at the Tyson chicken slaughterhouse in Grannis, Arkansas from 1997 to 2002. He changed his life completely, speaking out boldly on behalf of chickens and against the terrible abuse they suffer, at considerable risk to himself in a region dominated by Tyson Foods.

In 2002, Virgil was a keynote speaker at UPCs Forum in Norfolk, Va. where he spoke brilliantly and unforgettably about Inside Tysons Hell: Why I Got Out of the Chicken Slaughtering Business. (Virgils VHS presentation can be ordered by going to http://www.upc-online.org/fall04/videos.htm.)

Virgils detailed account of what goes on inside chicken slaughter plants has been an indispensable contribution to animal advocacy organizations working to reduce the suffering of chickens and promote a compassionate lifestyle.

Poultry Concerns will publish a Memorial to Virgil who with Laura Alexander, his partner and Good Angel, is featured in a front-page interview Slaughterhouse Worker Turned Activist in the Fall 2004 issue of Poultry Press (http://www.upc-online.org/fall04/virgil.htm).

Of their committed lives, Virgil and Laura wrote, We are a team. We do everything together. We changed our diet. We just couldnt look at a piece of meat anymore without seeing the sad, tortured face that was attached to it some time in the past.

Laura told UPC today that Virgil was himself a very tormented man. He could not find peace on this planet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Memoriam: Virgil Butler

Virgil Butler, the former slaughterhouse worker from Arkansas who dedicated his life to educating others about the horrors of factory farming, died last night in his sleep at the age of 41. Virgil spent 9 years working in Tyson slaughterhouses, killing as many as 80,000 birds a shift in extremely dangerous working conditions and for very little pay. But in 2002, Virgil contacted PETA to say that he had had enough of the human and animal suffering that he witnessed every day, and asked what he could do to help. Discussing his and his wife's feelings at the time, he said:

What I have seen was horrible enough that we had quit eating chicken. When we researched a bit we found out that the poultry business is no worse than any other part of factory farming. Now we don't eat any meat at all. We also spend a part of each day in the fight against factory farming.

For the next four years, Virgil played David to the poultry industry's Goliath with courage, resourcefulness, and a limitless supply of patience and good humor. He gave news conferences about his experiences, spoke forcefully about animal and human rights issues on his blog, The Cyberactivist, and inspired thousands of people to make changes in their lives based on his own compassionate example. His legacy is one of kindness, hope, and perseverance, and his loss is very deeply felt.

Virgil's story, front page L.A. Times:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1208-07.htm

Virgil interviewed by COK:

http://www.cok.net/feat/virgilbutler.php/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,090 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girlie View Post

Virgil died in his sleep

He did not commit suicide

K~
Yes, the obit says he died in his sleep, but the description says he died while sitting in his car in front of his house. If it was an accident or a heart attack or anything else it would not have been worded like that, which leads me to believe it was a case of intentional car exhaust poisoning, which would certainly put you to sleep. I hope that's not the case, but if it was it's quite a shame. We've lost a powerful voice and advocate for the animals. Whatever the case, hopefully he's at rest.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25,067 Posts
Maybe it's just me, but I think it's somewhat tacky to speculate about his death. He seems to have been a very committed activist with a very interesting life story and the courage to stand up and speak up, and that's all that should matter at the moment.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Maybe it's just me, but I think it's somewhat tacky to speculate about his death.
Maybe to offer some perspective but I know, at least for me, the circumstances of his death have some potential significance and could raise some issues. I was someone who corresponded with him and have been concerned about his health after he had a near fatal accident last year. He also had someone shooting at him in his own yard and was surrounded by enemies. So I'm not sure it is all just morbid curiosity. At least not in my case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
414 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
United Poultry Concerns

December 19, 2006

Tribute to Virgil Butler, Who Died December 15

By Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns

The animal rights movement pays special homage to people who once made their living by abusing animals, stopped what they were doing, repudiated it, and spoke out. It is usual for such people to confess that before whatever it was that changed them, they had accepted, without question, the animal suffering they caused.

Readily to mind come Donald Barnes, a former Air Force radiation experimenter on chimpanzees turned antivivisectionist, Howard Lyman, a former cattle rancher turned vegan activist, Eldon Kienholz, a professor of poultry science at Colorado State University who resigned his tenure and spoke out against the terrible things he did to turkeys and chickens and Virgil Butler, who quit slaughtering chickens and risked his life by taking a stand.

All of these men came from agricultural backgrounds. Don Barnes, Eldon Kienholz, and Howard Lyman grew up on family farms, and each has described how far from humane and idyllic the family farm really is. In an exchange of letters, Don Barnes and Eldon Kienholz discussed how easy it was to graduate from animal farmer to animal experimenter. Howard Lyman went from being a family farmer to a factory farmer without losing sleep.

Virgil Butler grew up in rural Arkansas, dominated by the chicken industry. He worked for a while as a chicken catcher before going to work for Tyson as a chicken hanger and throat-cutter. He writes: I hung live chickens in the shackles and worked on the kill floor. I was lead hanger for the last few years, so it was also my job to teach new-hires how to hang and kill chickens. . . . You stand there with a very sharp 6-inch knife and catch as many birds as you can that the killing machine misses because the ones you miss go straight into the scalder alive.

More even than Don Barnes, Eldon Kienholz and Howard Lyman, Virgil Butler was steeped in violence and cruelty his whole life long. That he emerged to become a passionate and articulate voice for chickens is nothing short of amazing.

Fortunately, Virgil will not vanish. Luckily for us, Virgil wrote everything down. A compulsive chronicler, he committed his precious experience to print before passing away. I have a three-ring notebook filled with Virgils detailed responses to my incessant questions about the chicken slaughter process and culture. And then there is his blog at www.cyberactivist.blogspot.com, a treasure house of testimony. And we have him on videotape speaking at our conference, in 2004.

Tyson tried to suggest that Virgil made things up. However, nobody could fabricate the precise account that Virgil has left us of just a part of a regular nights work at Tyson: the way the chickens hang there and look at you while they are bleeding, how they will try to hide their head from you by sticking it under the wing of the chicken next to them on the slaughter line, how he transformed himself from slaughterer to "savior.

When I invited Virgil to speak at our Mad Cows to Mad Chickens conference in Norfolk, Virginia in August of 2004, I had never even heard his voice, until I phoned him a few days before the conference to confirm his arrival at the airport, where I would meet him and his beloved Laura, and drive them to the hotel. And this is how I see them: I am standing at the bottom of the escalator watching people come down, down, down, waiting and waiting, and suddenly, there they are! Virgil Butler and Laura Alexander. And they are radiant.

Next day, Virgil took command of the lectern like a veteran, and held us all in thrall with his talk. His articulate description of what takes place inside a chicken slaughter plant, his fielding of questions from the audience, his authoritative presence without pretense here was a speaker as well as a writer, an authentic voice for the birds and a better world.

Virgil Butler had charisma, gift of Gods grace. How fortunate for us that he passed our way.

For those wishing to contact Virgils partner, Laura Alexander, to express sympathy, email her at cybergypsy1[email protected]. Thank you.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top